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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Irony: That's FoI pronounced Phooey!

    Does no one else detect just the slightest irony in the fact that the government that promotes Orwellian standards of Big Brother surveillance - NIR, ID cards, e-Passports, video cameras on every street corner, a DNA databank to which everyone who passes through a police station is added (even 13-year-olds who steal a tube of smarties) - is careful to keep its own business private? Reported everywhere (e.g. Out-Law) and made much of in today's Sunday papers, a proposed law that would exempt MPs from Freedom of Information rules has passed through the House of Commons. Not everyone is blind to the injustice (although the words, 'lone' 'wilderness' and 'voice' spring to mind!):
    “It is an effrontery for the House of Commons to make the deeply hypocritical move of exempting itself from a law that applies to every other public body in the country,” said Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who opposed the move.

    "It is also deeply undemocratic that MPs on both the Government and Conservative benches have clearly collaborated to ensure that those with a contrary view, fighting for open government, were silenced after barely any debate on amendments to the bill,” said Baker.

    It seems to me that a basic tenet of democracy ("Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives") has to be transparency, or how do we know that our elected representatives are actually, well, representing us? I can think of no (as in, watch my lips, none whatsoever) situation in which a government is justified in taking an action that is hidden from its people.

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